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Shedding Light on EIFS

As you read this column, we have already chosen our new Executive Vice President & CEO. Of the six candidates, all were vetted by an experienced association executive recruiter—a new experience for me in my contracting business.


One of the topics in this month’s magazine is exterior insulation and finish systems and interior insulation. While some of our AWCI contractors perform EIFS work, others may be looking to add it to their business plan as a new company division. My company does EIFS work in California; until the last five years, I would say it was very hard to obtain insurance for this type of work on the West Coast.


As you know, interior insulation is the thermal insulation in the wall cavity between the interior drywall and exterior cladding. As an exterior cladding, EIFS adds to the thermal value of the building envelope.


Here are a number of types of interior insulation: fiberglass batts, mineral wool, plastic fiber batt, cotton batt, fiberglass and cellulose blown-in, and SPF (spray polyurethane foam).


There is also a drainable EIFS system that architects should be aware of and feel comfortable specifying in their documents. It works like this:

Superior Moisture Control/Resistance

  • New EIFS incorporate fluid applied air and moisture barriers as well as drainage planes to promote positive moisture drainage out of the system resulting in overall superior moisture resistance.

  • Finishes are moisture resistant helping to minimize water infiltration into the wall cavity.

Energy Efficient

  • Reduce air leakage to minimize thermal loss and increase overall building energy efficiency.

  • Incorporate rigid insulation (EPS or XPS foam) for a CI (continuous insulation) system adding R-Value (4 – 5.6 per inch) to exterior wall assemblies which increases resistance to heat flow through the wall assembly thereby increasing building energy efficiency.


  • Finishes formulated with 100 percent acrylic binders for resistance to fading, chalking and yellowing.

  • Dirt and mildew resistant for cleaning with hose.

  • Impact resistant with high-impact reinforcing mesh and/or high-impact basecoat material.

  • Tested for resistance to hurricane force winds.

  • EIFS is a crack-resistant, flexible system which can absorb minor building movement caused by thermal expansion (hot and cold ambient temperatures).

Afford Design Flexibility

  • Near limitless color choices.

  • Multiple textures and finishes that mimic other finishes for less cost.

  • Lightweight system—about 1.5 lbs/sf—reduces stress on the exterior wall assembly.

Price Advantage

  • Installation cost savings over many finishes, including metal panel, rainscreen panels, GFRC/GFRG, fiber cement siding, brick, stone and stucco with continuous insulation.

Warranted System

  • Extended full-system single source warranties available from most manufacturers of EIFS, which include air/weather barrier, thermal, base coat and finish coats.

Skilled Craftsmen Guaranteed

  • All major manufacturers of EIFS require applicators certified for their systems.

  • Trade organizations (such as the AWCI) train and certify applicators and companies.

  • EIFS companies knowledgeable in multiple exterior envelope functions needed in using a whole building approach to achieve a fully energy efficient, thermal, air and moisture-resistant building while not compromising other building components in the application of the exterior cladding.

Hopefully the information above sheds some light on EIF systems. I look forward to seeing you all on Sept. 24 at the AWCI’s Industry Executives’ Conference & Committee Meetings in Honolulu. Aloha.

In addition to being 2019–2020 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Nancy Brinkerhoff is CEO and president of Ironwood Commercial Builders in Northern California.

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